Friday, April 25, 2014

League Comprehensive History: How good is CJ Frost right now?


If you've followed League of Legends and its professional scene, its hard not be aware of CJ Frost. The team, along with its sister team CJ Blaze, has a history of being one of the oldest and most prestigious League of Legends teams in the Korean scene of OGN. For those in the west, you probably remember them for taking 2nd in the second World Championships after losing to TPA.

The Old Kings

In Korea, CJ Frost are essentially one of the most popular teams in Korea along with SKT T1 K. They are essentially perceived as the "Old Kings", a team who has performed consistently well in the competitive scene since its creation. They won the first OGN (back when they were known as MiG Frost), and have historically placed highly in the brackets (only since OGN Winter 2013 have they fallen below 4th place); Up until a few seasons ago, there was not a single final without a CJ team-Blaze or Frost were always in the finals.

Left to Right: Shy, Rapidstar, Madlife, Woong, Cloudtemplar

The most popular line up of Frost consisted of:
  • Top-Shy
  • Jungle-Cloudtemplar
  • Mid-Rapidstar
  • ADC-Woong
  • Support-Madlife 
(This was the team who recently played in the "All-Stars" match against EDG a month ago.)

The Fall of Frost

Frost has been traditionally a "Season 2 team", which means it was a team who excelled at teamfighting, and preferred champions who farmed heavily, and tried to draw the game out to late, and win through superior teamfighting. The style was similar to that of then

Unfortunately the meta-shifts have not boded well for the members of the team, and they have not adapted especially well. After the Season 2 world championships, their roster began to fall apart. It began with the departure of the "Tank ADC" Woong. Woong was not tauted to be a great mechanical ADC, and many perceived his replacement by Hermes to be something that would make Frost stronger.

The original Frost roster is begins to fall off

It was then that Rapidstar, the midlaner began to fall off. Rapidstar's champion pool consisted of heavy farm and slow moving mages such as Karthus, Anivia, and the occasional Diana. With the shift of the meta towards emphasizing early and mid game, Rapidstar had trouble adapting to the new champions. After a few subpar performances, Rapidstar was replaced by GankedbyMom, known as the world's greatest Orianna.

Then,  in the middle of Season 3, Cloudtemplar, the world's greatest "Herbivore jungler" left the team to pursue a career in casting. Cloudtemplar is perceived as one of the Korean scene's most articulate and intelligent players (hence his easy transition into casting). In fact, you can make the argument that his preferred champion pool helped define Frost's gameplay. Cloudtemplar was well known for playing junglers who had great teamfight potential and tanky stats: such as Amumu, Rammus, Skarner, and is known for his jungle Shen. Essentially, having a jungler who offered low pressure prior to 6 but strong pressure post-6 defined how the Frost lanes would play- they would try to play safe until Cloudtemplar hit 6, and then try to force teamfights after that. Cloudtemplar's playstyle and role on the team was unique, and when he left, Frost could not find an adequate replacement.

The Rebuilding

Late Season 3 and Early Season 4, Frost was not performing very well. Their original strengths were made obsolete and unattainable due to meta-shifts and roster changes. Frost was looking for a new identity.

There were three roles that were constantly changing: Mid, Jungle, and ADC.

In the Mid lane, Rapidstar's replacement Ganked by Mom wasn't performing up to par. In addition, his lack of a champion pool was problematic, as the enemy could easily force him into certain champions. He could essentially play Orianna, and Zed, and the rest of his champion pool was not as impressive. Frost picked up veteran player Maknoon, but unfortunately he wasn't able to perform adequately either.

In the Jungle, CJ Blaze's jungler Helios moved over to Frost to replace Cloudtemplar. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to be the playmaker that Frost needed to be successful, often being unable to make plays and forced to gank or cover lanes. He was later replaced by Lira, who had similar problems.

In bot lane, Woong had been replaced by Hermes, but was quickly replaced by Space after a few poor performances. Space began as a very aggressive player, but later began to play in a style similar to Najin Sword's Pray- who focused on synchronized play with the rest of the team.

This was Frost's roster for a bit. (Left to right): Shy, Rapidstar, Madlife, Ganked by Mom, Helios, Maknoon, Space

Frost had an issue of weak mid laners and junglers, which allowed for enemies to take huge advantages over them in early and mid game. While Frost was still able to make it out of groups occasionally through a lucky match up against weaker groups, they were unable to reach their former glory.

At the start of Spring 2014, Frost dropped its midlaners and junglers in favor of new players newly released from Korean team Xenic's Storm: Coco and Swift. The pair had strong synergy (important for Mid and Jungle) and were able to carry Xenics Storm through several games.

The new roster consisted of:
  • Top-Shy
  • Jungle-Swift
  • Mid- Coco
  • ADC- Space
  • Support- Madlife
This new roster has changed Frost's identity greatly.

A New Identity

The addition of Coco and Swift changed CJ Frost's identity greatly. Given the aggression of Coco and Swift, the whole field of play changed.

Coco, the mage carry.

Coco is a very aggressive and mechanically skilled player. His Kassadin (named Cocodin) was reputed for good reason, and he holds one of the highest KDA's in the game because of it. His repitoire seems to consist of Kassadin (pre-rework), Nidalee, Ziggs, and Leblanc. His play has been on point, and he often makes plays with the support of the jungler swift. So far, he is probably one of the best players on Frost's roster.

Swift, the playmaker
Similarly, Swift is also a very aggressive player. Unlike the other junglers of Frost, he prefers to play aggressive junglers who invade and kill the enemy jungler: such as Lee Sin and Kha'ziks. His Lee Sin play is to be feared, as he has the Insec kick down to a tee, and his picks have won them games. He and his partner Coco have essentially carried games for Frost by applying enormous pressure. He often aids top lane and gets Shy rolling, and has made Mundo a terrible pick against Frost due to their skill in diving Mundo early game.

Perhaps due to the amount of pressure being placed by the Jungler and Mid lane, Shy has begun to awaken in top lane. Shy has been considered one of Korea's greatest top laners along with his equivalent on Blaze, Flame. During the early season, he struggled to carry on Mundo and the other tanky top laners, but as of late he has found his place on Shyvana, and the revitalized Jax. In essence, he has hit "Flame-status", by getting several kills on the enemy team early, and then reaching a massive CS lead, while also pushing down all the top towers and solo-killing the enemy top laner or jungler.

Despite what you might expect, Bot-lane is probably Frost's least exciting lane. They are not necessarily bad, but they aren't necessarily strong either. Part of the reason is Frost often neglects its bot lane, preferring to use the jungler to snowball top and mid lane early on. This means that Space and Madlife will often choose to farm safely in fear of being ganked. Madlife, though known for hi clutch plays, is not especially active in the early game. The ADC, Space has recently discovered talent in playing Jinx as well as Twitch, but often falls behind in farm from being zoned out. Frost's botlane isn't often seen dominating the lane with aggression, and will usually not make plays unless they have support nearby.

These new changes have shifted Frost's focus and gameplay from a late-game and teamfight focused team to an early/mid-game focused team who focuses on ganks and picks.

Recent Performance

Frost has had one season with this roster, both in Champions and in Masters. In Masters Frost has not lost a game since Week 3, when they lost against SKT TI K. They have an upcoming series against Samsung, who they have a losing record against. However, winning in masters isn't considered very telling, as it doesn't give circuit points; as a result, teams often don't take it as seriously.

In OGN Spring 2014, they were placed in Group B, made up of generally weak teams, and placed second in the group, only dropping two games to Samsung Ozone. They made it out of groups in second place. Subsequently, they were placed against Samsung Blue and lost in a 3-1 loss. They have recently dropped down to NLB, and managed to defeat SKT TI S in a 2-0. Later this week, they will play SKT TI K in a bout to determine who proceeds to the finals for NLB.

Its uncertain how strong CJ Frost is at the moment. For certain, no one believes that Frost in its current form is a dominating team. While they have had fantastic games against strong teams such as Ozone, Shield, and even beaten teams like SKT S, its apparent that they aren't fully cohesive yet.
Frost sometimes gets over eager.

Frost's Playstyle

Frost's playstyle is different from the teams of last season, in that they don't "control" games in the way that KTB or SKT does. Instead, their style relies on constant skirmishes and picks. Its a style that depends heavily on mechanical skill, and is actually quite risky- since a lost teamfight gives up a great deal of momentum.

Their team's success currently depends heavily on their midlaner and jungler providing a great deal of pressure early on- forcing the enemy jungler and midlaner to respond. This allows Shy to fight in a 1v1, and crush the enemy top laner in traditional CJ fashion- occasionally Swift will babysit the top lane to get Shy rolling.  When it comes to midgame, Frost depends heavily on small skirmishes to force picks and fights in their favor.

The name of the game is Picks. Take down a single champion then proceed to roll over objectives

Its an interesting style, but it relies heavily on their mechanics rather than decision making, and often relies on somewhat risky warding for map control (Madlife has been caught out several times due to this). Additionally, this is a style that is weak against teams who have very good map awareness and warding (a la Ozone and Blue).

Significance of Farming

I believe that Frost still depends on that winning teamfight, and still goes out of its way to prepare for it.

The interesting thing about Frost is that it will often isolate its carries, and send them to farm. This is quite often Shy in top lane, where he power shoves the lane and tries to outplay the enemy laner, but sometimes Space is left alone in botlane to farm, while the rest of the team does something else. Even when the lane is pushed in, Shy will still stay top lane, and similarly, Space will stay bottom to get the farm.

This is significant, because it means that Frost isn't aiming to merely take objectives through besieging the turrets. They want to take objectives through kills and skirmishes. In this sense, Frost is not an objective based team-they are still a teamfight oriented team.

Frost aims to win the game by having more gold, better teamfighting, and stronger champions. This is opposed to KTB last season, who would do their fast-push  strategy, focusing on taking objectives over kills.

CJ Frost vs. SKT TI K

If this was last season, I would say SKT 100%. But this season, CJ Frost has improved greatly, while SKT TI K is on tilt with Bengi, Impact, and Poohmandu performing much weaker than they did the season before.
The Fallen Kings(left to right) Piglet, Bengi, Poohmandu, Impact, Faker
As far as match-ups go. I believe it currently looks like this:
  • Top Lane: Shy=Impact
    • While Shy might get his beloved Jax, Impact has been playing well with Renekton (often perceived as the counter to Jax). I basically expect the lanes to be Shyvanna and Renekton so long as neither is banned out.
  • Jungle: Swift > Bengi
    • Its hard to argue with this one. Swift's performance and mechanics have been on point this season, while Bengi seems to be struggling. The Lee Sin will be the real contested pick here, Swift is very dangerous on it. Another pick that we might see is Kha'ziks.
  • Midlane: Coco<Faker
    • Coco has been performing very well, but Faker has been performing well despite how K has been doing. Coco wasn't able to stop Dade, and I believe it might be similar with Faker. However, if Faker does not rotate (unlikely) the lane may go even. I expect Coco to fall back on either Ziggs or Leblanc. Faker's champion pool is too large to be able to fully predict what he'll bring out.
  • ADC: Space< Piglet 
    •  As of late, Space has been preferring to use Jinx, a champion that Piglet doesn't really play, and while Jinx is very strong late game, she is not the greatest duelist champion. So if Piglet goes for Vayne and isn't punished for it, Piglet might win this match up. I also expect Twitch to be a contested pick out of both ADCs.
  • Support: Madlife=Poohmandu
    • The two supports have similar champion pools at this point, both preferring playmaking champions: Leona, Thresh, Zyra, Alistar. Currently, I don't believe there to be a large difference in skill level between these two.
Overall, in a best of 3, I believe it will end up a 2:1 in the favor of SKT K. Despite how far Frost has come, I believe that SKT K has a better sense of map control and team unity. With that said, if Frost is allowed their way, it could easily fall in Frost's favor.


  1. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post
    ld hardas